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Skiers get creative with tailgating options

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 6:55 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 7:30 PM EST
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MENDON, Vt. (WCAX) - The pandemic has changed the ski experience this season. With limited or even no access to some resort’s lodges, skiers have been forced to improvise.

Skiers and riders at Pico Mountain Thursday afternoon gathered at their cars to catch some rays and have lunch between runs, in what some described as an almost rock concert-like atmosphere.

“I’ve had a pass up here for 30-some-odd-years and it’s always been a little cheaper to do as opposed to the $10 beers in the lodge. But unfortunately, the lodges aren’t open. I wish I could buy a $10 beer!” said Thomas Levy of Mendon.

Scott MacCloy from Connecticut says he’s an experienced football tailgater. “Usually, it’s too cold to tailgate during the ski season, but today is one of those days that you could actually pull out the grill, put some bratwursts on it, and do the same thing as you do at the football game,” he said.

Tailgating at Pico Mountain in Mendon.
Tailgating at Pico Mountain in Mendon.(WCAX)

Some skiers admitted to taking a ‘sick day’ for the spring conditions. And first-graders Maggie and Tom Lepesqueur also got in on the action. “Sometimes you’ve gotta skip school and go skiing when it’s sunny, before it’s over,” Tom said.

“No one learns when it’s this sunny and the mountain is still open,” said Maxine Saville, an Orwell student.

A pandemic goal for the Saville family -- and the friends in their COVID pod -- is to ski 40 days this season. Thursday was day 33 -- and 36 for the kids. “We were in our t-shirts because it was so warm!” said third-graders Liam Quesnel and Beck Saville.

The family bought a ski bus specifically for changing and warming up at the mountain this year and named it “The Grand Ole Apres.”

“The Grand Ole Apres” at Pico in Mendon.
“The Grand Ole Apres” at Pico in Mendon.(WCAX)

“It’s basically just like a mobile lodge,” explained Liam.

“Yup, and we have fires with that,” added Beck.

Pico officials were understanding and let them keep it in the parking lot most of the season. “We’ve been up here every weekend. We have a fire when it’s cold. We sit outside the bus. We’ve gotten to know some of our parking lot neighbors, and the staff comes over. It’s really been the best way to do weekends in Vermont during a pandemic,” said Maxine Saville of Orwell.

Skiers say they hope to get three more weekends out of the season, and with cold weather returning, they might get their wish.

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